Indigenous peoples are crucial for conservation - The Conversation

Photo credit: Joan de la Malla James Watson and co-authors write about their recent paper on the role of indigenous people in conservation. Read the paper in Nature Sustainability here. They find a quarter of all land outside Antarctica is owned by indigenous people, much of which is valuable for conservation and is already being managed for conservation. Read the full Conservation article here.

Climate velocity can inform conservation in a warming world

Climate change is shifting the ranges of species. Simple predictive metrics of range shifts such as climate velocity, that do not require extensive knowledge or data on individual species, could help to guide conservation. We review research on climate velocity, describing the theory underpinning the concept and its assumptions. We highlight how climate velocity has already been applied in conservation-related research, including climate residence time, climate refugia, endemism, historic and projected range shifts, exposure to climate change, and climate connectivity. Finally, we discuss ways to enhance the use of climate velocity in conservation through tailoring it to be more biologically

One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure

In an era of massive biodiversity loss, the greatest conservation success story has been the growth of protected land globally. Protected areas are the primary defense against biodiversity loss, but extensive human activity within their boundaries can undermine this. Using the most comprehensive global map of human pressure, we show that 6 million square kilometers (32.8%) of protected land is under intense human pressure. For protected areas designated before the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1992, 55% have since experienced human pressure increases. These increases were lowest in large, strict protected areas, showing that they are potentially effective, at least in so

Estimating the benefit of well-managed protected areas for threatened species conservation

Protected areas are central to global efforts to prevent species extinctions, with many countries investing heavily in their establishment. Yet the designation of protected areas alone can only abate certain threats to biodiversity. Targeted management within protected areas is often required to achieve fully effective conservation within their boundaries. It remains unclear what combination of protected area designation and management is needed to remove the suite of processes that imperil species. Here, using Australia as a case study, we use a dataset on the pressures facing threatened species to determine the role of protected areas and management in conserving imperilled species. We fou

Climate change vulnerability assessment of species

Assessing species' vulnerability to climate change is a prerequisite for developing effective strategies to conserve them. The last three decades have seen exponential growth in the number of studies evaluating how, how much, why, when, and where species will be impacted by climate change. We provide an overview of the rapidly developing field of climate change vulnerability assessment (CCVA) and describe key concepts, terms, steps and considerations. We stress the importance of identifying the full range of pressures, impacts and their associated mechanisms that species face and using this as a basis for selecting the appropriate assessment approaches for quantifying vulnerability. We outli

Need to address gaps in global fisheries observation

Military technologies accelerated the ability to navigate and find fish, leading to widespread overfishing and some rapid stock declines (Pauly et al. 2002). These technologies evolved into radar-based systems that enable near real-time observation of fishing vessels. Harvest rates increased dramatically with these technologies, but lack of basic monitoring and surveillance remains a major problem for global fisheries management (Beddington et al. 2007; Anticamara et al. 2011). Much knowledge of global fishing effort is still derived from handwritten logbooks. Vessels equipped with transponders can hide their location or purpose, and prosecution success for most fishing misdemeanors is very

Mining and biodiversity: key issues and research needs in conservation science

Mining poses serious and highly specific threats to biodiversity. However, mining can also be a means for financing alternative livelihood paths that, over the long-term, may prevent biodiversity loss. Complex and controversial issues associated with mining and biodiversity conservation are often simplified within a narrow frame oriented towards the negative impacts of mining at the site of extraction, rather than posed as a series of challenges for the conservation science community to embrace. Here, we synthesize core issues that, if better understood, may ensure coexistence between mining and conservation agendas. We illustrate how mining impacts biodiversity through diverse pathways and

Scenarios and models to support global conservation targets

Global biodiversity targets have far-reaching implications for nature conservation worldwide. Scenarios and models hold unfulfilled promise for ensuring such targets are well founded and implemented; here, we review how they can and should inform the Aichi Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and their reformulation. They offer two clear benefits: providing a scientific basis for the wording and quantitative elements of targets; and identifying synergies and trade-offs by accounting for interactions between targets and the actions needed to achieve them. The capacity of scenarios and models to address complexity makes them invaluable for developing meaningful targets and policy, an

Changes in human footprint drive changes in species extinction risk

Predicting how species respond to human pressure is essential to anticipate their decline and identify appropriate conservation strategies. Both human pressure and extinction risk change over time, but their inter-relationship is rarely considered in extinction risk modelling. Here we measure the relationship between the change in terrestrial human footprint (HFP)—representing cumulative human pressure on the environment—and the change in extinction risk of the world’s terrestrial mammals. We find the values of HFP across space, and its change over time, are significantly correlated to trends in species extinction risk, with higher predictive importance than environmental or life-history var

Protect the last of the wild

A century ago, only 15% of Earth’s surface was used to grow crops and raise livestock 1. Today, more than 77% of land (excluding Antarctica) and 87% of the ocean has been modified by the direct effects of human activities. Read full article here.

The effect of urban density and vegetation cover on the heat island of a subtropical city

The urban heat island (UHI) has a negative impact on the health of urban residents by increasing average temperatures. The intensity of the UHI effect is influenced by urban geometry and the amount of vegetation cover. This study investigated the impact of urban growth and loss of vegetation cover on the UHI in a subtropical city (Brisbane, Australia) during average and extreme conditions using the Conformal Cubic Atmospheric Model, run at a 1-km spatial resolution for 10 years. The average nighttime temperature increase was 0.7°C for the “Medium Density” urban growth scenario and 1.8°C for the “No Vegetation” scenario. During two widespread extreme heat events, the mean maximum increase in

Poor ecological representation by an expensive reserve system: Evaluating 35 years of marine protect

Global areal protection targets have driven a dramatic expansion of the marine protected area (MPA) estate. We analyzed how cost‐effective global MPA expansion has been since the inception of the first global target (set in 1982) in achieving ecoregional representation. By comparing spatial patterns of MPA expansion against optimal MPA estates using the same expansion rates, we show the current MPA estate is both expensive and ineffective. Although the number of ecoregions represented tripled and 12.7% of national waters was protected, 61% of ecoregions and 81% of countries are not 10% protected. Only 10.3% of the national waters of the world would be sufficient to protect 10% of each ecoreg

Large-scale environmental degradation results in inequitable impacts to already impoverished communi

Cambodian subsistence communities within the Tonle Sap Great Lake area rely on resource extraction from the lake to meet livelihood needs. These fishing communities—many of which consist of dwellings floating on the lake—face potentially profound livelihood challenges because of climate change and changing hydrology due to dam construction for hydroelectricity within the Mekong Basin. We conducted interviews across five village communities, with local subsistence fisher people in the Tonle Sap in 2015, and used thematic analysis methods to reveal a fishery system that is undergoing rapid ecological decline, with local fishing communities increasingly experiencing reductions in available fish

The location and protection status of Earth’s diminishing marine wilderness

As human activities increasingly threaten biodiversity [1, 2], areas devoid of intense human impacts are vital refugia [3]. These wilderness areas contain high genetic diversity, unique functional traits, and endemic species [4, 5, 6, 7]; maintain high levels of ecological and evolutionary connectivity [8, 9, 10]; and may be well placed to resist and recover from the impacts of climate change [11, 12, 13]. On land, rapid declines in wilderness [3] have led to urgent calls for its protection [3, 14]. In contrast, little is known about the extent and protection of marine wilderness [4, 5]. Here we systematically map marine wilderness globally by identifying areas that have both very little imp

A decision tree for assessing the risks and benefits of publishing biodiversity data

Inadequate information on the geographical distribution of biodiversity hampers decision-making for conservation. Major efforts are underway to fill knowledge gaps, but there are increasing concerns that publishing the locations of species is dangerous, particularly for species at risk of exploitation. While we recognize that well-informed control of location data for highly sensitive taxa is necessary to avoid risks, such as poaching or habitat disturbance by recreational visitors, we argue that ignoring the benefits of sharing biodiversity data could unnecessarily obstruct conservation efforts for species and locations with low risks of exploitation. We provide a decision tree protocol for

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